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Ontology on the gone!

The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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07/25/2005 Archived Entry: "Comic review: Robot"

Edited by Range Murata
Digital Manga Publishing

Review by Tom Good

In Hanaharu Naruco's Picnic, the second story in this collection, the Shibuya district of Tokyo appears as an abandoned, overgrown ruin, an image I found as startling and memorable as the final scene in the original Planet of the Apes movie. Each of Robot's 20 stories is quite short, but they manage to pack a lot of emotionally involving images into a few pages. The gorgeous full-color, large size format also helps to show off each of these artists. Range Murata, the editor of this collection, is also known for his work on the anime Last Exile.

If I had to sum up Robot in a few words, I would say it is full of surprises. This book contains science fiction, fantasy, comedy, action, horror, and even a few full-page pinups. In Sabe's strange and hilarious There Goes Suzume Robo, an obnoxious talking sparrow from the future parodies the cliche of the cute animal companion. Suzuhito Yasuda's Ebony and Ivory finds great dramatic potential in using just a touch of color in a mostly black-and-white comic. And in Oputon, artist Okama creates a funny and sensual four-page story about sleeping. After reading this I started lusting after a delicious afternoon nap.

However, not everything in Robot is quite so cute. Mami Itou's story Carogna is a disturbing and violent horror story that is definitely not for the squeamish. I cannot remember ever reading a comic that made me cringe the way this one did. Since that is at least partly its goal, it does succeed as a piece of art. But sensitive readers may want to skip this one and enjoy the rest of the book.

Most of the short pieces in Robot are complete stories, but a few will be continued in Robot Volume 2, so I am looking forward to the second book in this series. Robot was a fun read, and makes a good coffee-table book.

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